I Cancelled My FilmStruck Subscription, For Now
"I complain like everybody else. These days it is more difficult to make more challenging movies, put it that way. My biggest concern is not genre films so much as I hate that so many people will see Lawrence of Arabia or 2001 on an iPad." - John Landis
Criterion’s now-defunct distribution deal on Hulu was a godsend for me and every other broke twenty-something with a craving for obscure classics and capital-C Cinema. So when Turner Classic Movies and The Criterion Collection announced their partnership to create their own recently-launched streaming service FilmStruck, I had mixed feelings.
Though it’s exciting that Criterion is being digitized for streaming consumption, supplemental features and all, I’m disappointed that my cord-cutting millennial media consumption lifestyle is growing increasingly more expensive. I think we all are. Regardless, good cinema is good cinema and The Criterion Collection is synonymous with stellar and culturally significant films.
I eagerly awaited the launch of FilmStruck, counting down the days until release. I ran the idea by my less-cinesavvy partner and they were also eager to discover films that are just simply the cream of the crop. Then, the launch was delayed by two weeks to sort out some technical issues, which was fine since there’s nothing wrong with fine-tweaking a product before launch.
Eventually, FilmStruck launched at the start of November, and I like many other people signed up immediately for the fourteen-day free trial. After a cursory browse of the selection and adding a few titles to my watchlist I settled on spending the evening watching David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr., one of FilmStruck’s featured films. The movie was spectacular, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and definitely requires repeat viewings before I can even begin to analyze its content.
Disappointingly though, and the primary reason I cancelled my subscription not long after, is FilmStruck launched without support for Apple TV or Chromecast. Understandable, sure, but the psychedelic, mesmerizing experience of Mulholland Dr. was exasperated by the occasional glitch and even necessary reset when AirPlaying from my MacBook. It’s a band-aid solution to a problem I desperately need to be fixed before I can really dive into what FilmStruck has to offer. Luckily, these additions will be added to their application support in the near-future as their staff have alluded to online, which will surely benefit a wide number of cinephiles used to viewing digital content on their televisions without resorting to extra measures.
Although mobile support is obviously helpful, it’s important to recognize that none of these films were intended for consumption on a 5 to 10 inch screen. Most, if not all, of the films collected in FilmStruck’s streaming library are cinematic in the truest sense of the word, and should be consumed as such. It’s growing increasingly more difficult to give films the proper time of day as so many things compete for our attention.
My hope is that FilmStruck can beef up its library, and get the technical glitches and handicaps alleviated before it gains a notoriety for being so. Luckily, their audience and consumer base is an intelligent and forgiving one. Though, don’t take this piece as a slant towards the service. The Criterion Collection has never been this affordable, save for visits to your local public library or searching through used DVD bins. I’m very excited for the future of FilmStruck, but at least through the end of the year, FilmStruck is just that: the future.